PrayerPoints ~ Saturday, February 27th

James 3-17-18w

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 32

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ — and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”    Psalm 32:5

It is so easy to be so shocked and appalled and caught up in everyone else’s sin yet neglect our own important self-reflection and confession. Confession is so important because it is an acknowledgement of sin in our own lives.

Consider those things in your life you would like to confess because they weigh on you. You can certainly just confess those things to God — I find it helpful if I talk out loud since I am a verbal processor. But if you want some feedback in the way of spoken forgiveness, seek out a healthy pastor or priest for absolution.

Confession so often becomes one of those things we look for in others but, maybe, are not so keen on surrendering ourselves. Sometimes our busy and distracted lifestyle interrupts the time we need to contemplate our sin and confess it as such.

And the peace and healing that comes from confession? Unparalleled. That’s why it is said, “Confession is good for the soul!”

PrayerPoints ~ Wednesday, February 24

James 3-17-18w

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 27

“The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1

Psalm 27 has so much good stuff in it!

And still, even with knowing the truths that are there, at times I am still fearful. I think I dwell on too many “what ifs”. I cannot control the future. Even though there are times I wish I could, it is for the best that I can’t. The best I can do is control my responses to situations. Knowing that the Lord is my shelter, my fortress, my salvation, my light, and the stronghold of my life helps me  put the “what ifs” into a proper perspective.

Recently, to every “what if” I have been trying to say “even if” instead and I recount the promises of God’s presence, perspective, and peace.

Psalm 27:5 says “For in the day of trouble…” and it reminds me that we all have days of trouble. Sometimes there are many days of “trouble” in a row. But “he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

There is no end to hardship in personal relationships, work situations, physical health, or the circumstances found in the world today because we live in a world full of sinners who make selfish choices. I have made quite a few sinful choices myself to the pain and detriment of myself and others. But God works in and through us and, often in spite of us to share His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love to our hurting world!

 

 

At the Cross

This has always been a favorite song for me. The tune is simple but the words are powerful…I pray you are able to release all difficult situations in your life into God’s care!

At the Cross

I know a place, a wonderful place
Where accused and condemned
Find mercy and grace
Where the wrongs we have done
And the wrongs done to us

Were nailed there with Him
There at the cross

At the cross,
At the cross
He died for our sin
At the cross,
At the cross
He gave us life again

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/v/vineyard/

Where Am I?

PrayerPoint 2.18.13

 
Have you ever visited someplace and awakened in the middle of the night, when it was very dark, and wondered “Where am I?”  I have slept many places and I usually do ok but if I am overtired or stressed I have been known to get disoriented. I usually lie there a long time blinking my eyes with my mind racing to put together the place and the circumstances that led to where I am. And then I remember how it is I got there. 
 
Have you ever lived a period of your life making some crazy selfish choices and then, one day, you “wake up” to the consequences of your actions and wonder “Where am I and how did I get here?”
 
Sometimes it is plain ugly to come face to face with the destruction of our situation and even uglier to remember it was done by our own hand! How can this possibly be redeemed? 
 
There are several ways to respond. Here are a few options with varying degrees of success:
 
  • Abruptly change course and run as fast as you can. Occasionally there are still some things that might hang onto you but breaking free and high-tailing it out of there are actually pretty good moves depending on the situation.
  • Accept your penalties and wallow in self-pity and self-deprecation. This is an easy way to drive people away from you. If you want to be lonely, chart this course. 
  • Try to hide your past so that no one knows how stupid or misled you were. Spend a lifetime hiding your embarrassing actions. Pretend you have never done them. Criticize others who have made the same mistake so others wouldn’t ever suspect you yourself have done such a thing. Not recommended.
  • Study your past ad nauseum (to a ridiculous degree) so you cannot see anything past yesterday. In theory, this plan has some merit. It is a wise move to avoid making the same mistake twice. But if you keep looking in the rearview mirror you can’t see where you are going if you are trying to move forward!
  • Take an honest assessment. Admit your failures. Ask God for forgiveness. Ask God for His help in putting the pieces back together. There may be a difficult lifetime of consequences for a single selfish act but it is an important and God-sized work that something begun in selfishness be transformed and redeemed into a blessing. Only God can do that. He has done it for me and He can do it for you!
 
As we all grow toward maturity in Christ we are hopefully less impulsive and much more attuned to following God’s lead the first time. Then when we wake up and wonder “Where am I?” We can remember “Oh yes, I am right where He wants me to be!”
 

PrayerPoint ~ Lovely ~ April 1

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I would imagine we all have a little different idea about what constitutes lovely. But while we live in this world we will see some ugliness. Some of it will come from us. Some of it will happen to us. Some of it will happen to those we love. It is easy to dwell in what is truly ugly in this world because we bump into it all day long. Sin is all around us and it brings out some un-lovely things.

It is incredible that God can look at us and see beauty because Christ has covered our sin. Amazing. There is so much that is lovely in God’s Word and God’s promises. And in the difficult days of Holy Week–in the pain and suffering and sacrifice and surrendering of Jesus there is the beauty of God’s love that is displayed. So while God has created nature — much of it simply beautiful and breath-taking, it would seem His most amazing work is when He takes the thing we can’t possibly imagine as a good, right, or lovely thing and makes it so.

God’s idea of beauty is so unlike ours. He can bring beauty from ashes. He proclaims beautiful the feet that bring Good News.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15 NIV

May your sweet feet travel far as you share what He has done in your life! God Loves You! No Foolin’!
Liz

PrayerPoints ~ Just ~ March 30

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8  NIV

There are a variety of definitions for the word just but this one by thefreedictionary.com is enough without being too much: honorable and fair in one’s dealings and actions. And the definition for fair (from the same spot) is this: consistent with rules, logic, or ethics.

Alleluia for a God who is just and provides the way for us through Jesus! Nothing even comes close to comparing to the goodness and justice of God. He is always dependable to be just!

And while we might not always be consistent, my prayer is that each of us are being moved by the Holy Spirit in that direction. Let’s consider our actions as we are going about our day. Are we honorable and fair in our dealings? Are we consistent with rules, logic, or ethics? Of course we cannot compare to God in this department as we are laden with sin. But as the Holy Spirit continues to sanctify us, there should be evidence of improvement in these areas. Of course, it does depend on what part of the day one catches me! Maybe the same is true for you.

Growing up with some shady authority figures in my life (not my parents) I didn’t (and still don’t) just trust authority. Seeing a lack of integrity so blatant with several adults in the church spoke volumes to me. And it afforded me the excuse (ha!ha!) to be  fairly rebellious. Truly, someone else’s bad behavior should not be a license for me to behave badly. However, we should consider that our behavior does impact others. God has been busy buffing some of that rebelliousness out of me during the last 40+ years. And He still has a long way to go. I am a work in progress–a work of His heart. And you are too!

As you consider where you have been, can you look back 5, 10, 20, 40 years and see God’s work in your life? I pray so!

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1:8-10 NIV

So so thankful for God’s love and provisions!

Liz

PrayerPoint ~ Forgiven ~ March 23

So often Satan whispers lies like:

“God couldn’t possibly forgive you for doing that!” or

“God couldn’t possibly have use for you now that you have done [insert your sin here]!” or

“How many times do you think He is willing to forgive [insert repeated offense here]?”

Maybe you have heard those same lies or maybe you’ve heard others. There are days when I get in a rut and I forget that I’m forgiven. That might sound crazy but it can happen after a tough day or a restless night.

How do you recall the promises of God’s forgiveness and restoration?

  • Scripture
  • Attending church where forgiveness is proclaimed following the confession of sins
  • Witnessing a Baptism
  • Rainstorms
  • Washing dishes
  • Washing clothes
  • Showers/Baths
  • Washing hands

Within the daily routine of our lives, we are always washing something. Take a moment to connect the wordly cleanliness you have set out to achieve and remember your Baptism! Let Him refresh and restore you with a reminder of His Grace! God wants you to remember His forgiveness and Satan would love for you to forget it. Don’t give Satan the edge!

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.  2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2 (read the whole Psalm!)

Thankful for His cleaning (though I don’t always like the scrubbing!!)

Liz

PrayerPoint ~ The Warning ~ March 2

Since the tornado of 2005, the Evansville area has had a lot of weather warnings. It isn’t always easy to distinguish between the thunderstorm siren and the tornado warning siren but since we are generally home, I don’t stress about it. I can check the tv, radio, or weather tweets on my Twitter account. 


I don’t mind these warnings because they are important. They cause me to stop whatever I think is so important to do and pay attention. The community warning is general and it is up to me to heed it and respond appropriately.

Why is it so much harder to take a behavior warning from a friend? Would you really want to hear it from a stranger? 

Have you ever been in a position when your course of action was not in line with what you professed to believe and someone noticed and actually risked your relationship to mention it? Oh boy–not very fun at all. I have been on the receiving end of that type of conversation. It is so tempting to excuse and explain and justify the behavior. I think the best course of action is to listen to why your friend is concerned and possibly just receive the info and consider it without defending it immediately. Mull it over. Is the concern justified from their point of view? Just listen.

And what about when you are noticing someone sliding down a slippery slope? Oh what a difficult and risky conversation to have. Prayer, pray, pray about the conversation you think you might want to have. When someone is bound and determined to sin, they are often not willing to listen to a concern. Remember to examine yourself first. How have you been behaving lately? What are your motives? Do you have the type of close relationship with this person that you each are agreeable to being help accountable? 

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15 NIV

Where are you likely to be enticed? Take stock of your friendships today and consider inviting someone to be your accountability partner in an area that might be an easy temptation for sin. Be vulnerable but use discernment.  Invite someone you trust to pray for you in your areas of concern. It is much easier to set up these types of close relationships now when things are going well. And think ahead about how you might receive a warning. Sometimes they are the difference between life and death.

PrayerPoint ~ February 24

PrayerPoints ~ The Hands

Heavenly Father,
You have created my hands to do good works that will glorify Your name. Help me to discern those things You have prepared in advance for me to do. You have seen my hands participate in tasks that are hurtful. Forgive me for those times I have used my hands to harm others or myself. You were there when I dirtied my hands with sin. Thank you for the cleansing and forgiveness that is found in You alone. Help my hands to do many things for You. Let my hands show love in the daily tasks of  cleaning, cooking, driving, digging, sorting, serving, touching, typing, washing, and writing. You know where my hands need Your intervention. Please continue to nudge me with Your Holy Spirit to consider what my hands should be doing each day and soften my heart to heed Your conviction. Thank You for the gift of my hands!   In Jesus’ Name, Amen

PrayerPoints are “in season” during Lent and are written every day leading up to Easter. I have found that if I just pause long enough to listen, usually in the quiet of the early morning hours, God has things He would like me to consider. PrayerPoints are the outcome of my willingness to listen. It is always important and beneficial to be in God’s Word. My prayer is that PrayerPoints are simply a springboard to your deeper walk with God.  Liz Vos

Setbacks

“Sin will take you farther than you ever intended to stray, It will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay and cost you more than you ever intended to pay.” Author unknown

Have you ever found yourself in a frustrating place of sin and thought back to when that particular stronghold may have started? Definitely a sobering thought. Recently we had a local school principal arrested for shoplifting at Kohl’s. She was in her early 50’s. There was a lot of newspaper television coverage and she no longer works as a principal. Wow. Who knows when that all started for her.  This sin took her on an ugly journey.

Sin is just like that. We justify and rationalize our behavior and get defensive when it is brought to our attention. But later we find ourselves repeating that same stinkin’ scenario over and over again and trying to get free from the grip of sin. What can we do? Here are some actions that can help:

  • Confess
  • Seek Forgiveness
  • Have an accountability partner
  • Surround yourself with Scripture
  • Pray
  • Change your scenery or routine
  • Forgive yourself

Be open to insight from more seasoned Christians who may have the ability to see you are headed down a dangerous path. Sometimes those rebukes come from someone who has walked a similar road and desires to save you from the pain and consequences they experienced. Sometimes we are so blind to current or future consequences of our sin that we are shocked when a concerned friend brings forth a warning. Be approachable.

As long as we are human we will have setbacks. Will you allow a setback to give you an excuse to go further down a dangerous path or will you allow it to help you see your vulnerabilities and give you the chutzpah to forge through temptation the next time?